There is no such thing as "life". There are lives.

Discussion in 'Suicidal Thoughts and Feelings' started by Valteron, Oct 25, 2011.

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  1. Valteron

    Valteron Well-Known Member

    One of the problems with sweeping statements like "life is precious" and "life is worth living" is that it presupposes that there is a universal fact called "life".

    We do, admittedly, use the term "life" in biology in a broad sense, such as "life began to evolve on land", and so on. But a site such as this one we are not talking about life in the general, biological sense. We are talking to individuals who are each living an individual life, and those lives can vary from other lives in a million ways.

    When you get right down to it, "life" in the singular really means little more than not being dead. A young soccer star who has just scored the winning goal in the finals and a 90-year-old dying of a painful disease are both deemed to be alive.

    Nature, or God, if you believe in God, has very little regard for life. Take one small example. There is a type of fly that reproduces by laying its eggs inside a certain type of caterpillar. The eggs hatch and the fly larvae grow strong and healthy by eating the poor caterpillar from the inside. The caterpillar finally dies after what is presumably a hell of suffering. Does the existence of such an arrangement imply any sort of caring god to you?

    When I say I would like to have the courage to do myself in, and people tell me "life" is precious, I feel like saying "On what do you base yourself to judge that MY life is precious? What information do you have about MY life (in the singular) to make that statement?" I am willing to admit that "life" in the generic sense is precious, but then again I am not proposing to wipe all living things off the planet, am I?
  2. may71

    may71 Well-Known Member

    I don't believe in telling people that they should not kill themselves if that is what they want to do.

    Instead, I would say that there is a very good chance that it is possible for you to get better with treatment. When people say that they want to kill themselves, usually it's because a trauma, or a disease, like depression, is influencing their point of view. Generally, if you are healthy, have good relationships, and have your basic material needs met, you'll be happy and want to live

    It might be worth trying to fix the problems that are making you want to die. certainly no guarantee that they can be fixed, but maybe worth trying

    I don't think it is possible to prove or disprove religious issues. I'm not trying to persuade anyone on this, but I think I can give a response to the caterpillar issue

    so for the traditions that believe in reincarnation, the caterpillar has to pay its karmic debts. if the caterpillar is getting worse than what it really deserves, then it will get credit toward its future incarnations
  3. In a Lonely Place

    In a Lonely Place Well-Known Member

    I think I'm slightly different may71 as I'm not in the depths of despair,not battling a drink or drug addiction.I've never felt as tho I fitted in,I've always thought more of animals than I do the human race,I've no ambition no will to try and change my situation.This will sound really evil and I apologise in advance but I've wished I could die in an accident or have a heart attack to save me from doing it myself. If there were clinics that you could walk into and be carried out the back door in a box I would have done it years ago,it's the details of doing it myself that tie me up in knots. How do you give someone the will to live who never wanted to be here in the first place?
  4. jimk

    jimk Staff Alumni

    Valteron, lots to think on with this subject.. to put it simple as i can, my son johnny is alive and to see his smile makes me really glad i am alive and he is in my life..

    do not think this is an hallucination and is very real.. Jim
  5. Isabel

    Isabel Staff Alumni

    I beg to differ, individual lives do not exist outside the whole matrix of interconnected beings. There is such a thing call life and its the universe challenge to the second law of thermodynamics which states that since the big bang, everything should evolves toward a greater state of entropy (chaos or disorder). Most of the universe is made of inert, inorganic material which does not seem to have an opinion in what will happen to it. Life is that tiny, precious pocket of dissidence which says, wait a minute, while the show lasts, lets make something of ourselves, or at least throw a party. So it strives to preserve itself and grow. And while at times the rules of the game seem a bit harsh from the limited point of view of the individual, the whole play unfolds quite beautifully, from the first very simple unicellular organisms to those able of self-consciousness. What is the endgame? Who knows? Maybe there is none. Maybe what matters is playing our part to the fullest until the torch is passed to other players (who wants to watch a hockey game where the players are half-hearted?). Because in death are the seeds for new life and the more generously we live our life, the more fertile the ground where the new seedlings will take roots. Maybe they will figure it out. We sure know a little bit more about the whole kit and caboodle then the first cavemen. Other life forms don't second guess themselves on the merit of it all. From the moment they are born, they fully engage themselves and play their best game. And thank the gods for that. Where would we be if the first amphibian standing on the shore had thought: "Meh, this whole going on the land business looks way too difficult and dangerous!". Or if the grass decided to throw the glove thinking: "I am done with this whole buffalo, wilderbeest, reindeer grazing racket and I wont grow no more."

    In any case, and its a personal stance, I find the whole show amazingly interesting and beautiful and the question to answer is not such much about the merit of it, as how I will make my life matters in it. And as a human being, our unique advantage is to be able to answer it much more creatively than any other life form. Old or young, sick or healthy, poor or rich we all can find something meaningful to do to contribute. Its our gift or our burden, depending on how we choose to see it. I often think of this old little lady in a remote fishing village. At the very end of her life, all crippled and in pain, she chose to rage against the dying of the light by knitting those wonderful warm wool socks. In a place as foggy and cold as Newfoundland, where the men goes at sea everyday, keeping the feet warm is not small thing.

    Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
    Dylan Thomas

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
    Because their words had forked no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    And you, my father, there on that sad height,
    Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 26, 2011
  6. 41021

    41021 Banned Member


    well, so much for the response i was about to give.

    Thank you for that Isabel. Needed to think on that today (hug)
  7. tmostna

    tmostna Active Member


    Ironic that in support of your stance you quote a depressive person who drank himself to death.
  8. Isabel

    Isabel Staff Alumni

    Its ironic only if one see life as a tragedy rather than a comedy. Or if one moans over the fact that everything is transient and both life and death are not opposite but complementary. Without that balancing act, its stagnation. Life have a sense of humor. One of its most twisted joke is that so many of the most creative individuals come often with a strong inclination to self-destruction, from Van Gogh to Janis Joplin. Methink its the old story of Icarus, that in striving, there is always the possibility of overreaching and falling. Dylan words are no less beautiful and true.

    Oh! But it don't make no difference, babe, hey,
    And I know that I could always try.
    There's a fire inside everyone of us,
    You'd better need it now,
    I got to hold it, yeah,
    I better use it till the day I die.
    Janis Joplin
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 26, 2011
  9. Isabel

    Isabel Staff Alumni

    ps. the more I think about it, the more I see Dylan poem as a call to live as intensely as one can while it lasts. He sure did. So really, there was no irony in quoting him.
  10. tmostna

    tmostna Active Member

    I reply, by the way, not to cause an argument, but more in the spirit of a debate.

    Anyway, what you have done there is to apply a personality to an abstract concept.

    Maybe you mean that we should have a sense of humor about life?

    I have nothing against creative types, but I don't believe they are any more or less inclined to self destruct than anyone else.

    Nor is their contribution more or less valuable than anyone's else's, for that matter.

  11. In a Lonely Place

    In a Lonely Place Well-Known Member

    Ever get the feeling your totally outgunned intellectually? :-(
    I wish I could join in by half of it's gone over my head
  12. Isabel

    Isabel Staff Alumni

    The concrete, the real, the individual is where the rubber meets the road. An abstract concept has little value if its not applicable in the real world. Either we proceed by induction or deduction, the value of the abstract resides in what it can tell us about reality. Except for mathematicians who just like to stay in the abstract, but no wonder so many are a bit on the side of madness. But I digress. The day reality stops informing and redrawing the abstract map we have in our mind, we are either stagnant, dead or crazy, none of the options being overly palatable. Anyhow, I just liked the way Thomas says we should not live life without a fight. The hunted deer running for its life from the wolf pack does the same but lives the poetry rather than write about it. But for his defense, Thomas sure made a point to raise Hell before he kicked the bucket.


    Even if I have no statistics, the creative minds seem more prone to derail. For example, from the top of my mind, I can only think of one composer who lived a long and happy life, JB Bach. Kay Redfield Jamison (she is a psychiatrist) wrote Touched with Fire where she presents pretty solid evidences that high achieving artists are more prone than the general population to manic-depressive illness. And manic-depressive are much more given to self-destructive behaviors like addiction. The metaphor of Icarus seemed pretty fitting.
  13. tmostna

    tmostna Active Member

    With respect, the fact that you can only think of one such composer is hardly relevant and surely everyone is creative to one degree or another.

    And your point about high-achieving artists being more prone to manic-depressive illness than the general population is absurd!

    Pop down to you local psychiatric clinic or hospital and see how many of the poor souls suffering with bi-polar (formerly know as manic-depressive illness) could claim to be high achieving artists.

  14. Isabel

    Isabel Staff Alumni

    I doubt respect was at any point involved in your reply. Respect would have involved a modicum of thoughtfulness, especially if you disagreed with my point of view. One, the fact is that while we all have a certain amount of creativity, we are not born equal in that regard and some people are exceptional in their artistic contributions. Do you understand statistics? I wrote that the prevalence of manic-depressive is higher in artists than in the general population, not that it was absent from the general population. Have you read the book by Jamison? I guess not. That is one of the point she makes. I would think a respected psychiatrist would be a credible reference. Here a little stat for your info:

    Second, I grew up in a home located five minutes by walk from a mental institution where two of my great-aunts and my brother worked, I volunteered for a year in a mental institution and I have had the privilege to be committed to a psychiatric ward. This is why I hate debating, most of the time knee jerk personal attacks end up replacing cogent arguments. So, this is where I leave this thread.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 26, 2011
  15. tmostna

    tmostna Active Member

    Well, clearly you are not suited to debate, I offered my opinion respectfully and you chose to take it as some sort of personal attack.

    It's hardly a knee-jerk reaction to point out inconsistencies with your argument that "For example, from the top of my mind, I can only think of one composer who lived a long and happy life"

    How is that a cogent argument?

    I would argue that the vast majority of composers survived into old age and were as happy as anyone can reasonably expect to be.

    People like to romanticize 'artists' and that's fine but I disagree with your central point, they are no more prevalent to mental illness than anyone else.

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 26, 2011
  16. TWF

    TWF Well-Known Member

    I'd love to be an artist of some sort, a painter, poet or author. But there's a limit to how occupied these occupations actually keep you. A poet's job is to reflect on life, analyse it and put his or her ideas to paper. Just imagine doing that your whole life..... They arguably spend too much time having to simply reflect on the broader ideas of life and the world, philosophy or whatever they look at. That can get pretty depressing once you inevitably discover the harder facts in life, no?

    Poets tend to also be introverts, at least the ones I studied....
    I wouldn't put it down to a poet being a ''greater mind'' rather, the nature of their occupation might leave them more susceptible. Reflection is not a healthy distraction for a depressed mind.
  17. Valteron

    Valteron Well-Known Member

    How terribly convenient as an explanation. That is a prime example of what atheists and psychologists see as one of the main motivators of religious belief : 1) Dislike of the unknown and (2) preference for a bad answer to no answer.

    Look at all the absurd myths to account for what people did not know and could not explain. Why are there different languages? Because people in Babylon tried to build a tower and God confused their tongues. Better than saying "I don't know!"

    Now then, do you have an iota of proof that anything or anyone has been reincarnated? And if the best you have to offer is some story about a kid in India who allegedly remembered her past life with another family, and whose story is always impossible to verify after the fact, then don't waste my time or yours. I am asking for REAL proof, not stories from the tabloids.
  18. Valteron

    Valteron Well-Known Member

    Why do you put yourself down so much, Mark? You sound like a bright lad to me. Express what you think, and don't be afraid. Like the poem says "You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here."
  19. In a Lonely Place

    In a Lonely Place Well-Known Member

    Thanks but I seriously cant really relate to some of the exchanges between Isabel and tmostna just seems like I'm worlds apart. I don't read dylan thomas and I didn't go to uni. I like people to speak in laymen terms if possible but in saying that I like the threads you started. Questions I like,I question everything which is why I'm an atheist despite the fact my family believe.
  20. Isabel

    Isabel Staff Alumni


    Simonton, D.K. (2005). Are genius and madness related? Contemporary Answer to to Ancient question. Psychiatric Times. vol. 23. no.7.

    First, the rate and intensity of psychopathological symptoms appear to be higher among eminent creators than in the general population (Ellis, 1926; Raskin, 1936). Although the differential depends on the specific definition used, a reasonable estimate is that highly creative individuals are about twice as likely to experience some mental disorder as otherwise comparable noncreative individuals (Ludwig, 1995). Depression seems to be the most common symptom, along with the correlates of alcoholism and suicide (Goertzel et al., 1978;Ludwig, 1990; Post, 1996). Second, on average, the more eminent the creator, the higher is the expected rate and intensity of the psychopathological symptoms (Ludwig, 1995).Third, the rate and intensity of symptoms varies according to the specific domain of creativity(Ludwig, 1992; Post, 1994). For example, psychopathology is higher among artistic creators than among scientific creators (Post, 1994; Raskin, 1936). Thus, according to one study, 87% of famous poets experienced psychopathology whereas only 28% of the eminent scientists did so, a figure close to the population baseline (Ludwig, 1995). Fourth, those family lines that produce the most eminent creators also tend to be characterized by a higher rate and intensity of psychopathological symptoms.
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